Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Brightly BurningBrightly Burning by Alexa Donne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have never read Jane Eyre.

I know, I know. Put your pitchforks down….
How can I possibly rate a Jane Eyre retelling without having read the original source material? Well, I am going to rely on my very light JE knowledge from the multiple adaptations that I have viewed. My favorite being the one with Mia Wasikowska – I mean, that girl can act, am I right?

Anyway, moving on…this book, Brightly Burning, is a standalone YA science fiction story that retells the story of Jane Eyre but in SPACE. Quite frankly, that is what sold me. I will literally read anything if you tell me it is ‘set in space’. In this version, our Jane is played by Stella Ainsley. She is an engineer and part-time teacher on a decrepit spaceship called the Stalwart. Stella longs for a different life, one that will take her far away from the failing Stalwart. She begins applying for jobs on other ships; the only real way you can transfer among ships in this fleet that are basically assigned based on social class. To her complete surprise she ends up being offered a position as a governess aboard a private ship called…wait for it…the Rochester.

It doesn’t take long after Stella boards the Rochester before she begins to suspect that something sinister may be going on aboard this ship. Strange occurrences, things going bump in the night, inexplicable laughter in the halls…you get the gist. As Stella grows closer to the other people aboard the Rochester, most importantly, the Captain, Hugo Fairfax (also the owner of the ship), she begins to piece together the strange history of the ship and the Fairfax family. Along the way Stella and Hugo’s relationship begins to go way past employer and employee…sparks fly, etc., etc.

That is all I will say on the plot as I don’t want to reveal too much. There were many connections to the original Jane Eyre story – I feel in a way that payed a nice homage to the original text without being ‘copycat’ in its styling. I really loved the setting and I think any YA science-fiction fan could appreciate it. I thought the ships and fleet in general were well constructed. For me the pace of the story was great. I was never bored and I really liked Stella. I understand from reading other reviews that not everyone was a fan of Stella, but for me, I really liked her. I felt I could relate to her – I mean, she is a major book nerd and isn’t one to cow to what society may expect of her; I felt I understood her motivations.

That last maybe 20% felt a little rushed to me and a bit of the science on that end didn’t make sense – it wouldn’t have been possible for the events to occur as quickly as they did but it is a fictional story so I’m not going to go too crazy about that. It definitely didn’t effect my rating at all, I just had a good giggle about it. I can’t really go into what I mean because it would completely spoil the end. I was really happy with it though when I finished. I think it came to a nice conclusion and was a good way to end a standalone novel. I would definitely read more books by Alexa Donne and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

Original: I’m very happy with this but it is late and I must sleep. Full review to come…stay tuned!

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Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

AllegedlyAllegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Allegedly was Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut novel. I am still reeling from this book. I finished it last week and have been thinking about it ever since. It is hard for me to wrap my head around this being her first book. I have already purchased Monday’s Not Coming and am really looking forward to reading that as well.

This novel follows, Mary Addison, after being released from ‘baby jail’, she is living in a group home and trying to get her life on track. Mary was sent to ‘baby jail’ for killing a baby that she was helping her Mom take care of. Allegedly. The majority of the book is stream of consciousness narrative which can be very hit or miss for me. This is how it should be done.

It was incredibly moving to hear Mary’s remembrances of various parts of her childhood, her challenging relationship with her mentally ill mother, and of her ‘crime’. The rest of the book cleverly fills in the blanks with an excellent assortment of mixed media sources such as police interviews and court transcripts. I thought the blending of these two styles together was executed perfectly to reveal the ‘truth’ behind the story.

The thing I appreciated most about this book was the way it reflected upon the juvenile justice system and the hopelessness and desperation these kids are experiencing; the problems with that and the systematic failures put forth onto hundreds to thousands of kids. Behind every case number, inmate number, statistic, is a story. This is just one. Of Mary Addison, a smart, mixed race girl, who struggles with feeling self worth and who never really had a chance. Her codependency with her mother and her mental illness was so raw and real. I felt for this girl. I was drawn into her story. It was such a struggle to get through some sections but worth it. It was so well done that at times, I would be so wrapped up, I had to remind myself…this is FICTION. But for a lot of kids out there, too many kids, this story would be all too real.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and DAMN, Bahni Turpin can make you feel all the feels. She is so talented and truly brought the story to life for me. I was listening to Mary as far as I was concerned. I could not recommend this audiobook more highly. Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Previously: Chills. That ending was a complete surprise – not at all what I expected but in the brief time I have had to reflect on it, I think it is actually perfect. Anything else maybe would have seemed false – too good a conclusion or too bad…I do need to think more on this one before I write my final review. Tiffany D. Jackson is one hell of a writer – I will leave it at that for now.

Original: Starting this audio tomorrow for Contemporary-A-Thon! This will be counting for my dark book, as it is definitely not a light-and-fluffy contemporary, and my non-traditional format book ( = Audio )! I could also count it as a diverse book but I have another one I think I will use for that challenge.


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Review: Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne #1)Priest of Bones by Peter McLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Priest of Bones by Peter McLean is the start to a new adult grimdark fantasy series. Gritty, violent and highly addictive this book kept me glued to the pages until the very end. The story begins with our badass MC, Tomas Piety, returning to his hometown after fighting in a long, brutal war. He brings with him a hodgepodge group of men, including his righthand ‘man’ Bloody Anne, and the mysterious child, Billy the Boy. Not far behind comes his younger brother, Jochan, with some of his men, returning as well. The two groups band together and set out to reclaim the territory and businesses previously owned by Piety that have been pirated during his absence.

This story has everything I am looking for when I open a grimdark fantasy. I want dirt. Lots of it. Dirt, grime, blood, stink, cussing, fighting and no mercy. Just me?

This book had all of those things in spades but it also had a lot more. It deals with some heavier topics that I think were handled really well; rather impressively in fact. For example, a lot of the men returning from war struggle with PTSD – I believe they call it battle sickness in the book – and it didn’t gloss over that fact; it discussed it, showed what that meant amongst the men and how they helped one another. It also examined the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse – the effects that has as an individual is growing into an adult. There are issues with grief, with guilt, and sexual identity. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few that I noticed and appreciated. That is pretty much all I want to say on the plot, as I don’t want to reveal anything else that may spoil the paced reveal of the story to anyone.

“All you want is more blood, and more fucking death, and it’s never enough for you, is it? You’ve become a fucking priest of bones!”

I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes grimdark fantasy; particularly people who may like stories like, The Song of Ice and Fire series, that have a lot of political intrigue in them and complex relationships. This story left off in the perfect place for the second book to start and trust me, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Well done, Peter McLean, well done!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkeley Publishing Group, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing what other readers think of this incredibly dark and delicious story!

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Tag Time: The Netflix Book Tag

Hey fellow bookworms – time for a tag!

Today I decided to do The Netflix Book Tag which I first came across on Josh’s Beards & Books channel on YouTube. You can watch his video by clicking here >>> The Netflix Book Tag <<<. I’m not much for chatting today so without any further ado, let’s just get into the questions:

1. Recently Watched (the last book you finished reading)? The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I listened to the audiobook -this is an adult psychological thriller that takes place aboard a luxury cruise ship. It was okay – I wasn’t blown away but it had its moments. I gave it a 3-star rating.

2. Top Picks (A book/books that have been recommended to you based on book you have previously read)? Horror books get recommended to me a lot because of my tiny Stephen King (who are we joking here….ENORMOUS) obsession. Usually, things by great authors such as Jack Ketchum, Robert McCammon, Peter Straub, Kealan Patrick Burke, Ania Ahlborn, etc., etc.

3. Recently Added (The last book you bought)? The last book I bought, which arrived today from Amazon, is Flight of Fright. This is a brand new horror anthology edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent. Basically, King, who is afraid of flying (as am I) decided it would be a fantastic idea to compile a bunch of stories dealing with the myriad of horrifying ways your flight could go wrong…and probably will. Definitely a good read for airline travel!

4. Popular on Netflix (Books that everyone knows about – 2 you’ve read and 2 you have no interest in reading): Two books that I have read that everyone knows about could be, The Shining by Stephen King and Dracula by Bram Stoker. Incidentally, these are two of my top 5 books of all time! Two books everyone knows about but that I have no interest in reading would be, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks and Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

5. Comedies (A funny book): The last book I read that really had me laughing out loud was Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. This is a contemporary YA book that just had such witty banter between the characters. I absolutely adored Emma Mills writing style and gave the book a 5-star rating.

6. Dramas (A character who is a drama queen/king): I thought Leah from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a bit of a drama queen. Getting all angry at Simon for no good reason! No good reason, Leah! Good grief…

7. Animated (A book with cartoons on the cover): Howl’s Moving Castle, the Greenwillow Books Edition, published in 2008.

8. Watch it again (A book/book series that you want to re-read): I am definitely due a reread of my favorite book of all time, The Stand by Stephen King.

9. Documentaries (A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone): The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. Top notch writing. Also, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, an absolute brilliant classic in true crime writing.

10. Action and Adventure (An action packed book): The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes which I reviewed on this blog about a week ago. Action-packed from start to finish, this new middle grade release is part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. This was just an awesome little story and I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

11. New Releases (A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read): Wildcard by Marie Lu which just released yesterday, September 18th. This is the follow-up to last year’s, Warcross, which was my favorite YA book of 2017. I preordered a copy of Wildcard and it should be arriving tomorrow!  So excited!

So that is it for my Netflix book tag! Feel free to tell me your answers to any of these questions in the comments section below – I want to know! Also, what’s everyone been watching on Netflix lately? I am excited for the new Sabrina reboot to drop!

Cheers and happy reading~

Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 kids. 1 asshat teacher. 1 room. 1 mysterious death.


This type of set up is one of my all time favorite mystery tropes. It is so nostalgic for me, bringing back memories of family games of Clue, watching Murder, She Wrote with my Mom and reading Agatha Christie books on summer vacation. Add in the fact that this cast of characters is very similar to the stereotypical characters in the Breakfast Club and you have an equation for the perfect book for Meg!

I listened to the audiobook for this and it had different narrators for the main characters. They all did a wonderful job and I flew through this book. Even though I predicted the ‘whodunit’ portion less than halfway through it was just a hunch and I did not deplete my enjoyment of this at all. I could have easily been wrong but I am glad I wasn’t because it was such a great twist to a classic tale. Getting to the conclusion was pure fun and I never got bored or felt that it was dragging.

Each chapter is from the perspective of one of the suspects – one of the four kids left alive after detention – and each chapter ended in sort of incriminating new facts related to that character. It was really well done and a ton of fun to read! I think this is easily the best YA-mystery that I have ever read and my first Karen McManus book – I am so excited for her next book to be released. If it is anything like this one, it is going to be a heck of a good time!

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Review: The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner #1)The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prepare for a gush fest people because I LOVED this book!

The Storm Runner is a new middle grade fantasy novel that is being published through the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. If you aren’t aware, sort of the purpose of this imprint is to provide a stage for diverse voices to tell stories based upon myths and folklore from various cultures around the world. This book is based upon Mayan Mythology and is full of angry gods, magic, mythological creatures and a ton of action and adventure.

Our main character, Zane Obispo, is a kid who has struggled a bit in his social life due to a limp caused by the fact that one of his legs is a little bit shorter than the other. Throughout school, Zane has had to deal with bullies and the feelings of inadequacy that can come when you feel like people are only seeing your faults, as opposed to the rest of you. Despite this, Zane is a sweet baby cinnamon roll who is full of good humor, love for his family and respect for his elders.

I truly fell in love with Zane’s character. I think he is an incredible role model for young readers and, heck, even adult readers. Not only is Zane a great character but he is surrounded by a whole flock of amazing side characters who bring humor, love, depth and drama to this adventurous tale. After witnessing a demon crash a plane into a volcano near his house, Zane ends up heading out on a quest to save the world with his new friend, Brooks (who also happens to be a shape-shifter) and his lovable Uncle, Hondo. Together these three battle scary enemies and plot incredible schemes to save all of humanity. Through his travels with his Uncle and friends, Zane discovers who he truly is and how powerful he can be.

There was so much action in this book. Literally, scene after scene of edge of your seat moments that keep you glued to the pages long after ‘lights out’ time has come! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves middle grade stories and/or books based upon mythology. Additionally, I think this would be a great book for parents or guardians to read with the kids in their life. I think there are a lot of great discussions to be drawn from this book and a lot of fun that can be shared as well. Overall, this is a fantastic story that will leave you feeling like magic is not only possible, but real.

Thank you so much to Rick Riordan Presents and Disney Hyperion for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. It was such a wonderful experience, one I will be thinking about and dreaming about for some time to come. I really appreciate the opportunity and hope that this series is a big success and continues on!

Initial Review: YEEESSSSSS! ARC received – this story sounds amazing – I cannot wait to dive in!

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Review: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

BrotherBrother by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rebel raised an eyebrow in approval. “Good idea,” he said. “A party ain’t a party without a splash of red.

Brother is my first Ania Ahlborn book. I cannot tell you how much it pleases me to have a new horror writer to obsess over! This book, set in the heart of Appalachia, is deeply disturbing. If you aren’t disturbed in some way by this, I’m not sure we can be friends…for real. One of the most disturbing aspects of this book is, it’s so realistic. At least the writing makes it seem so realistic. Why couldn’t this happen? It could totally happen. It is horrible and dreadful but it could happen. Nothing is scarier than mankind and their capacity to harm one another. At least not to me.

This book follows the Morrow Family, but in particular Michael Morrow, the 2nd son and the one who doesn’t seem to belong. Michael was adopted into this family but he has been well conditioned in their ways; bringing to mind the whole nature versus nurture argument. The skill of Ahlborn’s writing was on full display in the intricacies of the familial relationships. The relationship between Michael and his sister, Misty, was heartbreaking and that between Michael and his brother, Reb, the most disturbing and dysfunctional of all. I loved to watch the evolution of the relationships and the way Michael’s outlook begins to change when he befriends someone from outside the home. Even after this happens though, loyalty to the family remains one of the most important themes in his world.

His conscience wouldn’t let him abandon them. His mind wouldn’t ever let him disconnect.

I really became attached to Michael as a character. As morally grey as he was he seemed like the one shining light in this gloomy, hostile world. I wanted him to be free, to escape from the clutches of his grim reality. I wanted to help him. It’s weird to me how a character, by no means a perfect person, can become so loved, instilling such heavy feelings of empathy in a reader. This to me is a sign of exceptional character writing. I definitely plan to read more of Ahlborn’s books. If you have read any of her books, let me know in the comments what your favorite(s) are because I definitely want to put them on by tbr!

Also, just a side note, loved the references to The Shining in this one! I always love to see King references in other fiction – it makes my heart happy!

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Best Road Trip Book Ever!!!

Happy September fellow bookworms! My favorite month of the year and the start to the best reading season. I want all the spooky, mysterious and thrilling things from now through January. My most recent completed book, Dark Matter, brought all of those feelings and more!

Every Labor Day weekend I travel from my island home of Nantucket to the beautiful State of Maine (where I am originally from) for a weekend full of family & friends at a cabin in the mountains. This is always a fun occasion, but man, getting there can be a real bitch. It starts and ends for me with a 2-hour, 15-minute ferry ride in my car to the mainland and then…the drive. As many of you know, and have probably experienced, Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends in the United States. Getting off the Cape and through Boston/New Hampshire/Southern Maine can be challenging and LONG!

Needless to say, I take great pains to select just the right audiobook for every trip I take up there. This year – I hit the jackpot! My selection was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This is an adult science-fiction novel that I had heard nothing but good things about, however, I essentially knew nothing about the plot. Nothing. It’s one of those books where people don’t want to spoil anything for anyone so all you are really told is that it is excellent!

Blake Crouch is a bestselling author who also penned The Wayward Pines trilogy which was adapted into a well-received television series on FOX starring Matt Dillon. I watched it, I loved it but never read the books although I own the entire trilogy (story of my life).

Dark Matter follows scientist turned Professor, Jason Dessen, as he struggles with the after effects of the strangest night of his life. After a couple of drinks at his local watering hole, he is kidnapped and assaulted, when he wakes nothing is as it should be. This book started off with an absolute bang – there really isn’t much build up to the main plot and the action. The narrator for the audiobook, Jon Lindstrom, had the perfect voice for this story and it was easy to focus on his storytelling even whilst navigating traffic.

My road trip was essentially a 5-hour drive each way and I was able to complete the book in that time period. It was so exciting and confusing (in a good way) that it easily kept me awake and engaged the entire trip. One little thing I will reveal on the plot (stop reading if you want no hints) is that it revolves around a multiverse trope which is on of my all-time favorite sci-fi tropes! I was so stoked and once I discovered that was this story, I was even more sold than before. I felt it was handled so well as far as the science is concerned and in a very unique fashion. Crouch is an excellent writer and I definitely plan to read many more of his books now.

Dark Matter made my trip bearable. I got where I need to go and crushed a great book in the interim. Win, win all around. What has been your favorite audiobook for a road trip? I am always looking for more audiobook recommendations. To me, the narrator can make or break a story. Even if a book that you may enjoy if you were the person reading it, has a terrible narrator, it can completely ruin the story. I would definitely listen to more books narrated by Jon Lindstrom! Who have been some of your favorite narrators? I want to know! Leave a comment here or contact me through my contact me links to the right >>>

Cheers & Thanks for Reading!